Attending conferences is a great way for nonprofit professionals to learn, expand their network and stay up to date on issues facing the sector. Conferences also are a great opportunity for personal enrichment. There are many different reasons for attending conferences. Some attend as participants, while others attend as keynote speakers or seminar leaders. Whatever your reasons for going to a conference, you can take steps to make your experience both a positive and rewarding one.
Before the conference
Arrive early. Whenever possible, try to arrive a day before the conference starts. Conference speakers and organizers usually arrive early, and you can make great connections with them just by being there ahead of time.
Stay in the conference’s designated hotel, if possible. Sure, you might find a less expensive hotel a little further away, but you’ll miss out on opportunities to meet new people.
Plan sessions ahead. Once you’ve decided on the conference and registered, take the time to plan ahead. Go beyond picking out the sessions and workshops you want to attend, and set your goals and objectives. Think about the things you want to walk away from the conference with. Answering the following questions might help get you started:
■ Why am I attending?
■ Who am I looking to meet?
■ Who did I promise I would get together with?